Calvinism And Domestic Violence: there’s a correlation but we can’t say Calvinism *causes* domestic violence
…there is a correlation between Calvinism and domestic violence. .. It is not Calvinism per se but mostly males who use Calvinism’s hierarchical theories and sovereignty theories to perform and justify behaviors.
– Scot McKnight, reporting the findings of recent research into Domestic Violence Myth Acceptance (DVMA) and how that correlates with religiousness and particular types of religious adherence.
Scot McKnight is not a Calvinist but he is a lot more fair to Calvinism that many Christians in the non-Calvinist streams are. In his recent post Calvinism And Domestic Violence, McKnight has relayed the essential points of the academic research article Religious Beliefs and Domestic Violence.
Scott McKnight didn’t do the research; he’s simply conveyed to the broader public what the research found. The researchers found that:
1. Religiousness has a long-standing presence in the research literature on intolerance. However, religiousness is minimally represented in the interpersonal violence myth (IPVM) literature. IPVMs comprise an aspect of the broader construct of intolerance.
2. We heeded the call to address research on tradition-specific religious beliefs and IPVMs. As such, we examined select Christian beliefs about Divine–human relating, hierarchical relational expectations, complementarian gender ideology, and existential defensiveness as predictors of Domestic Violence Myth Acceptance (DVMA) using a sample of 238 students from a Protestant evangelical seminary (Mage 34.06, SD 9.33; range 22 – 62 years; 41.6% female; 80.7% White).
3. We observed positive associations among Calvinist tradition-specific religious beliefs and the 3 indicators of the latent construct of hierarchical relationality (i.e., hierarchical relational expectations, gender complementarianism, and existential defensiveness).
4. We also observed (a) a positive indirect association between Calvinist beliefs and DVMA through the latent construct of hierarchical relationality, and (b) a negative indirect association between Calvinist beliefs and social justice advocacy through hierarchical relationality.
5. Last, we observed evidence of suppression as the significant positive bivariate association between Calvinist beliefs and DVMA became significant and negative.
6. Findings supported the conceptualization of domestic violence myths as comprised by nonacceptance of out-group members, hierarchical relationships, and gender inequality, and that an aspect of Calvinist ideology is similarly defined.
7. Implications included designing training programs for religious leaders and constructing prevention and intervention strategies that foster self-reflection on religious beliefs associated with DVMA.
The researchers’ conclusion:
We examined select tradition-specific religious beliefs (i.e., beliefs, informed by and consistent with the Calvinist tradition within Christianity) and beliefs about hierarchical relating, complementarian gender ideology, and specialness and certainty, and their association with DVMA [Domestic Violence Myth Acceptance].
Findings suggested that DVMs [Domestic Violence Myths] are defined by nonacceptance of out-group members, hierarchical relationships, and gender inequality.
Furthermore, given construct validation evidence for the DVMA scale, the scale may be used as a measure of the extent to which an individual holds stereotypes and prejudicial attitudes that blame the female victims of male perpetrated family violence. As such, the DVMA scale may be used to assess intolerant beliefs, which could then permit practitioners to tailor prevention and intervention strategies to target specific religious beliefs that support violence myth adherence.
Now some remarks by me (Barbara Roberts)
I am a longstanding advocate for domestic violence victims in the Christian community. And I’m in agreement with Calvinist ideas about salvation and God’s sovereignty.
I’ve heard from hundreds if not thousands of Christian victims of domestic abuse from all streams of Christianity. Most of them are women, a few of the victims are men who were abused by their wives.
Many of the female victims I have heard from come from Calvinist churches, and many of those women report being GREATLY abused by the church when they disclosed the abuse and sought help from the church leaders. Many of these women have been shunned, stigmatized, spiritually abused, shuffled out, or excommunicated by the church for leaving or divorcing the abusive husband. This is disgraceful.
I have observed a tendency for male domestic abusers to gravitate to conservative religions because the “leadership role” of the husband and father is more generally supported by the conservative, literal interpretation of the religion’s texts. In my observation, women who abuse their husbands rarely abuse as a result of religious tradition.
Although I am Calvinist in my understanding of salvation and divine sovereignty, I oppose the type of complementarianism which CBMW and other such organisations promote. We have published a post about How complementarianism can magnify the entitlement mentality of men, making them worse. And we know that CBMW’s teaching has done immense harm to the female victims of abuse.
I wish that churches which call themselves Calvinist would face up to the epidemic of domestic abuse in their midst.